Hearing politicians talk is hardly my favorite pastime. This year, they are on my last nerve. But a few days ago I heard a soundbyte that caught me up short, which isn’t exactly shocking given this bizarre election year climate. This particular weird statement (also not shocking this year) made me think ‘what the…?’ And I automatically turned to say ‘Hon, did you hear that?”. Reflex actions die hard (no pun intended) and I knew my husband, as he always quipped, would ‘understand totally’. Except he isn’t there to tell that little political pundit to making it just one more moment that pushes my grief buttons.
Grief is contradiction. It’s a strange medley of the subtle and the overwhelming. It’s quiet reflection and loud sobbing. It’s memories that bring deepest sadness — and sentimental laughter. Yes, it happens. When you’re in your grief coma, with your heart in yesterday even as your feet are in tomorrow, the split-personality of grief shows up (or acts up, depending on how you look at it.)
Sometimes, as months pass by, a weird thing happens though in my case it might just mean weirder than normal. You look back on a week passed by and realize you misplaced your tears and haven’t seen them once – not once in those 7 days. Oh, that’s not to say you haven’t been sad, haven’t had tears well up over the silliest thing or times when your heart catches. It doesn’t mean you’re moving forward confidently with no thought of the person who was the other half of your life. It merely means that the hours and days of life take over, despite your best efforts to the contrary.
My computer mail alert sound is a comical audio clip of my husband singing “I love nobody but you” in his signature funny falsetto. (You’d have to hear it) Other people might think I’ve totally lost my mind — but that’s old news. No, that offbeat little sound-byte both comforts and chokes me at the same time. It can catch me off guard yet it also reminds me of his sense of humor that was kooky in a good way. It reminds me, too, of a phrase Barbra Streisand sang ‘Looking back, I lived on your laughter’.
And that’s more than a good thing.
To be able to be grateful for grief’s flipside. To find something unbearably sweet from something so utterly wrenching. To see, through a lifting fog, a glimpse of an unknown but welcoming shore on the horizon. To be aware of the tender moments of the present, the loving people and guided paths that propel you forward, if only on auto-pilot.
Grief could never be considered a ‘good thing’. When we’re dropped head first into it, we want nothing more than to get outta Dodge; to get back to the happy we remember when our love was exactly where it should be – next to us.
But that’s not how life rolls.
There are still things to pack up, and things that I never will be able to — and that’s okay. I’ll always make room for the precious past. I’m not completely ready to move, bag and baggage, into the other side of grief. For now, I’m a visitor, getting the lay of the land, finding where I fit. The move-in date is fluid and gradual.
One thing I know, that despite the fact I’ll probably never live anywhere near water, I’ll still keep the coastal décor. It suits me.